Things haven't been quite so rosy since that surprise loss at home to Northampton Saints in Round 3 of the Heineken Cup, however, as Mark Anscombe's men have slipped off the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 standings and were forced to make do with an away tie in the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition.
But despite winning just twice in the league since the turn of the year, Payne insists Ulster are still in a good place and will bounce back collectively, starting with Saturday's domestic derby with Heineken Cup holders Leinster at the RDS.
"You play to put yourselves in a position where you can win things and that's where we are. We've given ourselves the opportunity," Payne told the Belfast Telegraph
"We're in the running for two trophies so it should be an exciting few weeks.
"Collectively we haven't been playing quite as well as we should be and the boys have been struggling a bit. But that's not down to any one player.
"When you count in the injuries, there must have been 20 of us out during the Six Nations and if you take that number out of a squad, any team is going to notice it.
"It would be unfair to blame the guys who came in for the results. They haven't done a bad job as individuals. When you're losing games, usually it's about the collective.
"We're all pretty keen to put things right as a team. Everybody is keen to improve and turn these results around."